CFB Championship Week: Previews, Predictions, and 4 Best Bets for the Early Saturday Matchups

Jason Radowitz gives his predictions for Saturday’s early championship games featuring the Big 12, Sun Belt, MAC, Conf U.S.A.

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CFB Season Record: 41-25 – 62%

Baylor Bears (11-1) vs Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) on Dec 7, 12:00pm EST 

The surprising Baylor Bears will travel to AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas to take on the Oklahoma Sooners for the Big 12 Championship. The Bears have one loss on the year and it came against this very same team. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 34-31 in an epic 25-point comeback three weeks ago. Win a win on Saturday, Baylor could find themselves in the CFP if things go as planned. 

Oklahoma can also sneak into the CFP with a win of their own on Saturday as well. Baylor will have the advantage of playing closer to their home crowd. AT&T stadium is just an hour and a half away from the Baylor campus. If LSU and Oregon can also grab wins, Baylor wouldn’t just be Big 12 Champions, but they would find themselves in the four-team CFP. No matter what, this team has been incredible, transforming from a 1-11 team to a 11-1 team in two seasons under Matt Rhule. Charlie Brewer has thrown for almost 3,00 yards passing and 20 touchdowns. He has a QBR of 73.6 which is good for 25th in College Football.

Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who transferred out of Alabama to play his final season in Oklahoma has been excellent, throwing for 31 touchdowns and also has a QBR of 92.1, which is good for fourth in college football. Yet, we always talk about how the Big 12 doesn’t have defense. Baylor’s defense is easily the best in the Big 12 and couldn’t just as good as Big Ten or SEC defenses.

Baylor had Oklahoma on the ropes in the first game. They couldn’t close it. This time, they will. I’ll play it safe and take the 8 points. 

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns (10-2) vs Appalachian State Mountaineers (11-1) on Dec 7, 12:00pm EST

Appalachian State will host the University of Louisiana for the Sun Belt Championship. Earlier in the year, App State defeated Louisiana by the score of 17-7 on the road. Since that game, Louisiana has won six straight games after squeezing by UL Monroe by the score of 31-30.

App State’s Zac Thomas has thrown for 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season. They also took down South Carolina on 11/9, beating their only SEC team on their schedule this season. Thomas struggled in that one throwing for 105 yards on just nine completions. But the App State defense came up big, like they have most of the time.

Louisiana has consistently put up big numbers on offense since losing to App State. Louisiana has scored at least 31 points in every game during their six-game winning streak.

If App State wants to win this game, their defense is going to have to show up because Louisiana can definitely stick around, especially against a six point spread. Give me Louisiana on the spread, +7.5.

Miami Ohio Redhawks (7-5) vs Central Michigan Chippewas (8-4) on Dec 7, 12:00pm EST

An 7-5 team has the chance to win the MAC Championship on Saturday. The Miami Ohio Redhawks will take on the Central Michigan Chippewas who were on a four-game winning streak to close the regular season.

The Redhawks were on a five-game winning streak until Ball State pounced on the Redhawks for 41 points at home. Quarterback Brett Gabbert doesn’t have the best numbers, but he’s been getting the job done. He’s thrown for 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the year with a QBR of 39.9. On the ground, Miami Ohio features Jaylon Bester who averages about a touchdown a game with 623 yards on the ground throughout the season.

Miami Ohio will need to play better defensively in this match-up. Central Michigan can be explosive offensively. They’ve scored 45 or more points in their previous three games behind Quinten Dormady, who has thrown for just under 2000 yards, with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Central Michigan also features a 1000 yard rusher in Jonathan Ward, who has scored 15 touchdowns this season. 

As long as Central Michigan’s offense continues to put up points, there’s no way Miami Ohio comes close to winning this game. Central Michigan -7. 

UAB Blazers (9-3) vs FAU Owls on Dec 7, 1:30pm EST 

The UAB Blazers will travel to FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida to the Conference U.S.A. Championship on Saturday.

UAB finished the season 9-3 and won the tiebreaker against Louisiana Tech to stay atop of the Conference U.S.A West. They’ve won their last three games in a row, but it must be noted that they’re 3-3 on the road this year. UAB will look to repeat as consecutive Conference U.S.A. Champions but they’ll have a tough test against FAU.

The FAU Owls, who won the Championship two years ago, had a down year last year, but ultimately had their best season under Lane Kiffin this year. They went 9-3 and 7-1 in league play after winning their last five games in a row, outscoring opponents by 16 points during those five games. FAU also went 4-2 at home this year and they’ll get to play their conference championship at home.

Chris Robison will be the x-factor for FAU as he’s been terrific as of late. The sophomore has thrown for 3,129 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. FAU is scoring in the high 30’s consistently and shutting down the opposition’s offense. I’ll take FAU in a beat down against UAB. 

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